Assessing corruption risks in UK local government planning

Transparency International have conducted an assessment on the corruption in local government planning by reviewing a sample of 50 out the of the 317 councils in England. Through this assessment they highlighted five key corruption risks:

  • Opaque lobbying
  • Bribery and excessive gifts and hospitality
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Abuse of the revolving door
  • Weak oversight

The report states that these risks have increased due to low levels of transparency, poor external scrutiny, networks of cronyism, reluctance or lack of resource to investigate alleged wrongdoings. To counter these risks Transparency International suggested ten possible changes to reduce the corruption risks:

  • Minute and publish all meetings with developers and their agents for major developments
  • Prohibit those involved with making planning decisions from accepting gifts and hospitality that risk undermining the integrity of the planning process
  • Increase transparency over gifts and hospitality
  • Stronger leadership from the industry on ethical lobbying
  • Improved management of financial interests
  • Prohibit all councillors from undertaking lobbying or advisory work relating to their duties on behalf of clients
  • Manage the revolving door between the elective office and private business
  • Provide clear guidance and boundaries for councillors so they can better understand what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour
  • Provide a meaningful deterrent for serious breaches of the code of conduct
  • Increase transparency over investigations and enforcement action

Planning seems to be a hot topic in the forthcoming Manx elections. Despite this report focusing on potential corruption in English planning decisions maybe the recommendations in this report could provide a foundation on which reform can be built?

A link to the report can be found here.